i io HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION biographer of Columba, tells that one day an Irish poet (file) came to the monastery at lona and went away after the sermon. "Why," said the monks to Columba, " did you not ask him to chant us a poem to one of those pretty airs which the men of his profession know so well ? " This demand did not shock the pious Columba. " The reason I did not ask him for a song of joy was that it would have been cruel for us to do so, knowing that this unfortunate man was going to be murdered by his enemies as soon as he left the monastery.*5* Columba's tolerant attitude seems to have been general. Though such schools as the schools of national law and letters at Tuam, to which reference has been made, were com- monly taught by laymen, monks were not unknown among their teachers; and the preservation of the ancient literature of Ireland was in large measure due to their work. For fully two hundred years piety and learning flourished in happy union in the Irish monasteries. Then in 795 the storm of Viking invasion broke violently over the country, and the peace and security which Ireland had enjoyed while the greater part of Europe was in confusion, vanished, to return no more. Again and again during the three following centuries the land was harried by the Norsemen, and nearly every vestige of its culture disappeared with the religious houses in which it had developed. But all was not lost. In the heyday of Irish prosperity a great many mission- aries, impelled by the Wanderlust of their race, had crossed the seas and had settled as preachers and teachers in the northern parts of Britain and in Frankland and Gaul; and still more fol- lowed as the terrors of the Norse ravages increased. In their new homes they formed a number of little colonies in which they clung pertinaciously to the language and cult of their native land, and their zeal for learning and teaching suffered no abatement. " Wherever they went they founded schools. Malmesbury took its origin from the company of disciples that gathered about a poor Scottish teacher, Maidulph. The foundations of St. Colum- ban (543-615), Luxeuil and Bobbio long remained centres of learned activity amid Burgundian and Lombard barbarism : the settlement of his comrade St. Gall (550-645) rose into the proud abbey which yet retains his name, and which was for centuries the beacon tower of learning in Western Europe: the sister abbey - of Reichenau, its rival in power and in cultivation, also owed * Adamnan's Life, i, 22.